City Theatre Company
November 15 – December 21
8 .m., 7 p.m., 2 p.m., 1 p.m.
The fascinating story of American actress, comedian and singer Judy Holliday (1921 – 1965) comes to life in the latest work by Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright and screenwriter, Willy Holtzman.
The heyday of show business, mid-century Manhattan, smoky jazz clubs, Broadway openings and looming McCarthy trials converge in this music-infused story about a multi-faceted star. Following her successful turn as Billie Dawn in the 1946 stage production of Born Yesterday, Holliday went on to portray the lead in the 1950 film adaptation, which garnered her an Academy Award and a Golden Globe. Riffing on the title of Holliday’s iconic role, and looking beyond the demeaning stereotype of the “classic dumb blonde,” Holtzman’s play explores the accomplishments of a remarkable woman operating within a fiercely male-dominated era in show business.
Theater-goers will be transported to the pivotal year of 1964 in New York City, via a specially-commissioned play that combines memory, history and song. As the tape rolls, Holliday lays down tracks chronicling her rise to fame during the heated politics of the 1950s. Featuring timeless standards from the era sung by Andréa Burns, who stars a Judy, an intimate portrait is painted of the “dumb blonde with a genius IQ,” whose experiences took her from New York night clubs such as the Village Vanguard and Rainbow Room to Broadway musicals scored by Leonard Bernstein and on to Hollywood to work with Dean Martin and Marilyn Monroe.
The play features three actors all making their City Theatre debut: Andréa Burns, Adam Heller and Jonathan Brody. Smart Blonde follows City Theatre’s premiere production of Holtzman’s 2011 play The Morini Strad. The recipient of two Pulitzer Prize nominations, Holtzman—whose works often focus on theatrical representations of actual historical events—has won a Humanitas Prize, Writers Guild Award, Peabody Award and an HBO Award.
Directed by Peter Flynn, Smart Blonde runs in City Theatre’s Hamburg Studio from November 15th through December 21st as part of the company’s 40th anniversary season. Any fan of the golden age of Hollywood or New York City meccas like Greenwich Village and Broadway won’t want to miss this world premiere right here in Pittsburgh.
Explore Holtzman’s play, as well as the life and career of Judy Holliday, during City Theatre’s special public programs, including Sipping Sunday on November 16th, Sunday Talkbacks on November 23th, December 7th and December 14th and a Greenroom Young Professional’s Night on December 5th.
Andréa Burns (Judy Holliday) and Jonathan Brody (Elliot) in rehearsal for Smart Blonde. Photo by Andy Weier.